Understanding Child Sex OffensesA minor cannot consent or agree to sexual activity. Any individual who sexually abuses children is a criminal. Acts of sexual abuse against a minor can include indecent exposure, intercourse without consent, child pornography, touching, or lascivious behavior. Typical child sexual offenses in Houston include:
- Sexual Assault: This is when an individual has performed a sexual act that involved penetration with a child. Sexual assault of a minor is considered a second-degree felony, and the perpetrator can be sentenced to several years in prison and must be registered as a sex offender after release.
- Child Pornography: It is illegal in the U.S. to distribute, purchase, possess, or create pornography that shows minors under 18 years performing sexual acts. The first-time crime of child pornography is considered a third-degree felony. If the perpetrator is found guilty, they can be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and registered as a sex offender.
- Indecency With a Child: This includes any form of sexual contact without penetration and the minor's sex organs were exposed with the intention of gratification or arousal. Indecency with a minor can be termed a second or third-degree felony.
- Sex With a Minor: If evidence indicates the accused person engaged in sex with a minor, they can be charged with a felony. The defendant is still liable to be convicted even if the minor consented to the sexual activity.
- Online Solicitation of a Minor: If an individual knowingly sent an electronic message to a minor to solicit in any way, they can be charged with the offense of soliciting a minor online. Also, it is a crime if your intention to communicate with a minor online is to engage in a sexually explicit manner.
- Ongoing Sexual Abuse of a Child: An individual can be charged with continuous sexual assault if they have committed two or more sex crimes involving a minor within less than 30 days. If convicted, the verdict can range from 25 years to life imprisonment without any possibility of parole.
- Failure to Report a Child Sex Abuse: Failure to report a sexual crime involving a child is considered a misdemeanor offense unless aggravating situations make it a felony. This accusation is centered on the absence of action instead of affirmative wrongful acts.
Sex Offender RegistrationAfter a person is convicted of a sex crime charge, they must register as a sex offender. This is intended to protect other potential victims from future abuse. For most of the child sex offenses discussed above, the abuser must register as a sex offender for life or a period. When registering as a sex offender, the abuser must go to a local law enforcement agency to have their photo taken, provide fingerprints, and fill out paperwork. They are required to register in every place they intend to stay for more than one week. In addition, if they want to relocate, they must notify the police within seven days. Registered sex offenders may also be required to re-register annually with the police in certain circumstances.
Effects of Sexual AbuseSexual abuse survivors usually experience long-term psychological and physical effects due to the abuse. Victims of child sexual abuse crimes are more likely to go through revictimization. Common physical or psychological effects that sexual abuse survivors experience include:
- Physical injuries
- Unplanned or unwanted pregnancy
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Reproductive or gynecologic health issues
- Chronic health conditions
- Low self-esteem
- Substance abuse
- Relationship problems, including intimacy issues in future relationships
Seeking Compensation for Sexual AbuseMonetary compensation is a remedy in any civil action when seeking justice for sexual abuse. Even though money cannot heal the physical and psychological trauma that sexual abuse has caused, it can help compensate for the cost of treatment during recovery. Damages in a sexual abuse case might include:
- Medical expenses incurred to treat injuries caused during the abuse
- Payments for mental health or therapy (past and future)
- Impaired personal relationships
- Pain and suffering caused by the traumatic experience, both physical and emotional